We’ve had several calls recently about newmisserver files being “locked for editing”, although no one has them open at the time. Here’s what’s up and how you can fix it.
How Word and Excel Handle Files on the Server
If you open a Word or Excel file on the server it could potentially be in use by another person at the same time. There could be a problem with that, because if your colleague saves their changes and then you later change yours, you’ve just overwritten your colleague’s changes. That doesn’t make for good office relationships!
As a safeguard, Excel and Word create a temporary “ownership file” in the location of the document, giving it the name “~$” followed by the name of the document. For instance, if you were opening the file “myfile.doc” on newmisserver\public, an ownership file named “~$myfile.doc” would also be created on newmisserver\public. The file contains the name of the person editing the document. This file would be visible if you looked for it on newmisserver\public from a PC, but on a Mac it’s invisible.
When you close the document or quit the application, Word and Excel delete the ownership file. If you try to open a file that has an existing ownership file, you get a message that the file is locked for editing.
What Sometimes Goes Wrong
This is a good scheme, as long as the document is closed normally and Word or Excel gets the chance to delete that file. If, however, Word or Excel crash or the connection to the network is interrupted, the ownership file may not be deleted. Sometimes a network connection may be disrupted manually–if you pull the Ethernet cable out of the computer, say, without first closing the file and disconnecting from newmisserver; sometimes there may be a glitch in the network, causing a temporary disconnection at just the wrong moment. Whatever the cause, in these cases the ownership file is left behind, and no one is able to open the file for editing.
How to Fix It
If this happens to a file you’re trying to access, it’s easy to fix:
First, double check with your colleagues that they don’t actually have the file open.
If no one has the file open, on a PC (not a Mac), open up “My Computer” (Windows XP) or “Computer” (Windows 7).
Navigate to the newmisserver folder where the document is stored.
Find the errant ownership file, which starts with “~$” and has the name of your document. An easy way to do this is to use Details listing format and order the files by Name–it will pop to the top of the list.
Delete the file.
Now you should be able to open the file for editing without any problem.